GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The Aug. 4 primary election brought in a huge number of absentee votes in Michigan, surpassing the total turnout for the August 2016 primary and setting a new record for any election in the state.
There were several primaries for state and U.S. House seats, as well as primaries for a few West Michigan sheriff’s offices and some local millages.
U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
3rd Congressional District: Veteran and Grand Rapids businessman Peter Meijer won in the Republican primary. Meijer is also the grandson of the Meijer stores founder.
He was among five candidates running in the Republican primary. The others were state Rep. Lynn Afendoulis of Grand Rapids Township, Grand Rapids businessman Joe Farrington, veteran and former Sand Lake Village President Tom Norton and Battle Creek attorney Emily Rafi.
Meijer will face Democrat Hillary Scholten in November.
6th Congressional District: Longtime U.S. Rep. Fred Upton won the Republican primary. He was challenged by realtor Elena Oelke. In the Democratic primary, state Rep. Jon Hoadley of Kalamazoo beat out teacher Jen Richardson. Hoadley will challenge Upton on November.
MICHIGAN HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
60th District: Kalamazoo County Commissioner Julie Rogers beat fellow Commissioner Stephanie Moore in the Democratic primary. Rogers will face Republican Gary Mitchell in November.
61st District: Current Republican Brandt Iden, R-Oshtemo, is being term-limited out. Former Trump administration staffer Bronwyn Haltom beat out computer programmer Tom Graham in the Republican primary. Haltom will face Democrat Christine Morse in November.
70th District: State Rep. James Lower, R-Cedar Lake, will not seek reelection. Pat Outman beat four other candidates in the Republican primary. In November, Outman will go up against Democrat Karen Garvey.
73rd District: Farmer and son of a former lieutenant governor Bryan Posthumus beat out John Inhulsen and Robert Regan in the Republican primary. Posthumus will face Democrat Bill Saxton in November.
Branch County sheriff: Incumbent John Pollack beat former Quincy Police Chief Johnny Lopez in the Republican primary.
Ionia County sheriff: Republican incumbent Charlie Noll defeated challengers private investigator Douglas Gurski and former corrections officer Robert Rickert.
Kalamazoo County sheriff: Retired Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety Capt. Shannon Bagley won over Deputy Thomas Swafford. He will challenge Democratic incumbent Richard Fuller in November.
Muskegon County sheriff: In this Democratic primary, incumbent Sheriff Michael Poulin won the primary. He will go up against Republican Jason Hall in November.
St. Joseph County sheriff: Republican incumbent Mark Lillywhite beat challenger Gordon Evilsizor, a former patrolman and Florence Township supervisor who is now a businessman.
Also in St. Joseph County, attorney David Marvin won the prosecutor primary. He was challenging incumbent Prosecutor John McDonough. McDonough has held the job for more than a decade, but has faced criticism recently after crashing his SUV into a fence and being charged with drunken driving. There were no Democratic challengers.
Cedar Springs Public Schools: $68 million bond for building upgrades passed.
Hamilton Community Schools: $65 million bond for new middle school and other improvements did not pass — a separate $3.6 million operating millage passed.
Jenison Public Schools: A $61 million bond for building upgrades passed.
West Ottawa Public Schools: $13 million operating millage renewal and $687,000 sinking fund both passed.
RECORD NUMBER OF ABSENTEE BALLOTS
Absentee voting was bigger this time around than ever before in Michigan for two reasons: First, voters in 2018 approved changes that make it easier; and second, state officials pushed it to limit in-person attendance at polls as a coronavirus mitigation effort.
As of 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, The Michigan Secretary of State’s Office said 1,637,392 absentee ballots had been returned for the primary. With the vote still being counted in a few counties, the number was expected to grow.
As it stands, the number is more than three times the 484,000 absentee ballots cast in August 2016 and an even higher number than the total turnout — in person or absentee — of the 2016 primary, which was 1,390,192.
In fact, it was most absentee ballots ever cast in any Michigan election. The previous record for absentee ballots was about 1.27 million set in the November 2016 presidential election.
The state also says more than 3,000 people registered to vote on election day, which was included in the 2018 voting reforms.
With so many absentee ballots coming in, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and local clerks say not to expect final results until “well into” Wednesday. However, shortly after 5:30 a.m. Wednesday, Kent County Clerk Lisa Posthumus Lyons said they have “exceeded her own expectations” and have tallied every single vote in the county.
Benson, a Democrat, says a major factor slowing the count is that clerks are prohibited from preparing absentee ballots for counting early. She again called on the Republican-led Legislature to pass measures that would allow clerks to prepare ballots for counting before election day and also let clerks to count ballots that are postmarked by election day but arrive late.
**Correction: A previous version of this article mislabeled the 73rd House District as the 71st. We regret the mistake, which has been corrected.